Roseland Community Hospital pleads for help amid nursing shortage: 'Always a struggle'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Roseland Community Hospital kicked off National Nurses Week by honoring the essential work of its nurses, referred to as the hospital's backbone.

Nancy Fletcher was recognized for her dedication over the past 42 years.

"I love this hospital. I've been in this hospital since I came in 1980 and up until now, I haven't left because the administration takes care of the employees," Fletcher said.

The hospital also paid tribute to a nurse who died unexpectedly.

Subu Kiruguliage, 58, lost his life in February in an accident with a home repair. The nurse in the intensive care unit had been with the hospital for 30 years and played a critical role in the fight against COVID.

Subu's wife and daughter were on-hand and presented with a plaque bearing his name. Sandhya Shankar said the hospital was Subu's second home.

"He was so dedicated," Shankar said. "He loved what he did and he was always there to help and do what he needed to do."

Subu's loss comes at a time when hospitals here in Chicago and across the country are dealing with a persistent nursing shortage. Roseland's CEO said they are in desperate need of help.

"We don't have enough nurses," Tim Egan said. "It's really impacting us here on the South Side of Chicago."

Egan said the hospital currently has 75 full-time nurses, but could use 35 more. They've turned to agencies to bring in travel nurses at three times the expense.

"That has destroyed our budget," Egan said. "We are $4 million in debt just to nursing agencies right now."

Egan said they're hoping for financial aid from the state.

"It's always a struggle. It's always a struggle. We always plead and beg for more help."

In the meantime, Egan said the hospital will continue to do its best to serve the community by moving ahead with a renovation of the intensive care unit, which will be named after Subu once it's complete.
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